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Willy Yabwanya files his appeal

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Presidential aspirant for Football Association of Malawi (Fam) elections, Willy Yabwanya Phiri, has officially appealed against the association’s Electoral Committee’s decision to bar him from contesting in the December 12 polls.

The committee nullified Yabwanya’s nomination on the basis that it did not meet the pre-condition of Article 34.2 of Fam’s statutes, which states that the candidates must have residence within the territory of Fam.

The Karonga United owner was ruled to have residence in Canada, hence his ineligibility.

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Yabwanya challenged the decision and officially filed his appeal yesterday through his lawyer, John Gift Mwakhwawa, who ironically was also aspiring for the Fam presidency.

“We filed the application at 10:42 am at Chiwembe (Fam headquarters). They will advise us on the way forward,” Mwakhwawa said.

On whether Yabwanya would be available for the hearing, Mwakhwawa said it was not certain.

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“His presence is not necessary. He will have legal representation. But if they want him to be available, he will be available,” he said.

In the appeal, Yabwanya challenged that the electoral committee erred in failing to consider his address, as provided in the nomination forms, which is P.O Box 97, Karonga.

“The committee erred in failing to consider that the appellant has at all material times remained a bonafide citizen of Malawi and a resident of Karonga as indicated on his passport which is produced herein and marked as WP1”, reads the appeal.

The appeal also argues that Yabwanya’s presence in Canada is due to his temporary employment which does not take away his status as a citizen and resident of Malawi.

Furthermore, the appeal indicates that Yabwanya is a member of the committee which is responsible for the management and administration of the Karonga Stadium Project known as the Karonga Stadium Committee.

“…between August and September 2015 the Appellant was present in Malawi and conducted various football related activities, including meetings on the said Karonga Stadium project. That the said visit is substantiated by immigration stamps showing entry and exit dates produced herein and marked as “WP 3”, reads the appeal.

The appeal further questions the definition of the word ‘residence’ which, it argues, led to restrictive interpretation of the Fam Statute.

“…it does not provide or define any period of residence that will make one qualify to stand as candidate for Fam elections. This entails that in determining the issue of residence, there ought to be invoked other means of legal/statutory interpretation,” the appellant argues.

Yabwanya further argues that the determination of the Fam Electoral Committee is contrary to the rationale and principles of the National Sports Policy by curtailing the number of persons involved in sports through illegal and discriminatory disqualification.

The appeal thus moves that the decision of Fam Electoral Committee cannot stand on the basis that the appellant is, and has always been a resident within the territory of Fam, it should be ordered that the decision of the committee is discriminatory and violates the constitution of Malawi and Fam Statute

“It should be determined and ordered that the Appellant resides within the territory of Fam and qualifies to stand as presidential candidate for Fam elections,” reads the appeal.

Meanwhile, Fam Electoral Committee chairperson, Justice Dingiswayo Madise, had not yet received the appeal at the time The Daily Times contacted him Thursday.

“Once we receive the notice of appeal from the Fam general secretary, we will prepare a record for the appeals committee,” he said.

Madise added that it was likely that the case could be concluded within three days after the appeals committee gets the appeal.

“The appeals committee is the final stage in the process. As we know, football matters don’t go to court, therefore, the appeals committee will handle everything,” he said.

Madise added that none of the other disqualified members—Paul Mzungu and Hubert Mfune—had filed their appeals.

He also indicated that the final list of all eligible candidates would be released at least by November 25, but this is subject to the decision of the appeals’ committee.

If successful in his appeal, Yabwanya would join incumbent Walter Nyamilandu and Wilkins Mijiga in the contest for Malawi football’s top most position.

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